A Semester of Growth and Discovery in the Startup TNT Internship

By Lhamo Dixey, Startup TNT Intern, Fall 2023

The Startup Talent and Training Internship has, without a doubt, been instrumental to my growth and understanding of entrepreneurship and innovation. During my time working for CED, I have gained hands-on experience in how to start, grow, and support a budding business; I have also gained a deep appreciation for the Research Triangle as a collaborative, tightly-knit community of inspired entrepreneurs. I have had an absolute blast working for CED. 

Among my favorite memories, aside from those within the incredible work environment CED fosters in the office, have been the conversations with entrepreneurs, teachers, and leaders in the RTP. At the Board Meeting our very first week of the Internship, we learned from and spoke with experts and industry leaders based in the RTP; afterwards, we headed to Boxyard where I connected with many of them in a real and authentic way. A few weeks later, the Intern team volunteered for GRO Demo Day, where the newest cohort of GRO Incubator companies presented their businesses. At the event, I was given the opportunity to meet and connect with some of RTP’s most influential entrepreneurship teachers and leaders and engaged in deeply thought-provoking conversations with them. Fun fact – our Intern team got a behind the scenes look at the pitches before they were presented, and we heard from each company’s coach on how to strengthen their performances–something I think would be beneficial to anyone interested in founding their own venture. To wrap up our internship, we conducted interviews with CED’s board members, which was by far the most fulfilling project I’ve worked on at CED. Not only was I incredibly inspired by the stories of the board, I left feeling a new sense of excitement at the possibilities to come.

Candidly, in one of my interviews, as part of a personal exploration of my career, I said, “Sometimes I feel like a sheep with no sense of direction. I don’t know where I will end up, but I’m afraid I’ll end up somewhere I’m not fulfilled.”

“I’ve always found meaning through my work,” said Ms. Shila Nieves-Burney, General Partner at Zane Venture Fund, “and you can too. It’s up to you to find it.” Hearing her story recentered my path and made me realize that anything is possible, all that’s stopping you is you.

What I enjoyed most about working for CED was how the team fostered a creative, adaptive, and fun-loving environment. We were encouraged to explore our own interests and pursue projects that honed in on our personal strengths. There was never a time when I felt restricted or bored by a project: each was comprehensive, challenging, and rewarding, with tangible, real-world results. What best sums up my experience with CED – and I’ll never forget this – is when Kelly said, “It’s not about the how, it’s about the why not.” Thank you CED for a wonderful semester. And to anyone thinking of applying for this incredible opportunity, don’t forget – it’s about the why not! 

Lhamo Dixey is an undergraduate student at Duke University with a double major in Religion and Computer Science. Her anticipated graduation date is May 2025.

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